Pensacola downtownPENSACOLA, FL – The Pensacola Planning Board today will discuss imposing new restrictions on food trucks operating within the city.

Downtown restaurateurs have lobbied strenuously for the regulations in recent months — arguing that the up-and-coming businesses threaten to unfairly erode their bottom lines. However, food truck operators and advocates say the ordinance to be considered today goes too far.

The ordinance, proposed by Councilman Andy Terhaar, would ban food trucks from operating on Palafox Street south of Cervantes Street and within one block in either direction. Terhaar’s ordinance would also prohibit the trucks from operating within 500 feet of any brick-and-mortar restaurant without that business owner’s written permission. It also would impose a number of other restrictions.

Under current city law, food trucks are forbidden from operating on private property, except in areas zoned C-3 or industrial. However, city code is silent on vendors’ right to operate in public rights of way. As long as they are legally parked in a public space, Planning Services Administrator Sherry Morris said, they can peddle their hot dogs or gyro wraps for as long as they please.

Al Fresco, the collection of restaurants housed in Airstream trailers at the intersection of Palafox and Main streets, would be unaffected by the proposed changes. Council members amended city code in 2012 to pave the way for the development. The structures, which Morris said are not truly “mobile,” are regulated by a distinct portion of the code.

Terhaar said Monday the prohibition on food trucks along the Palafox corridor was meant to preserve the aesthetic nature of the district, prevent sidewalk and traffic congestion, and protect the investments of established business owners.

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